"tastes like happy!" adj. instead of nouns & v

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"tastes like happy!" adj. instead of nouns & v

Postby Kirk » 2005-08-27, 21:23

Has anyone noticed a recent trend in switching around adjectives and nouns in some cases in English? I'll give some examples from popular media and culture:

From the song "Only You" by Josh Kelley
Don't go act all sweetness
'Cause honey that’s not right


From the TV show Arrested Development:
George Michael: No, I want my dad to be happy.

Jessie: Oh, it’s too late now. I’ve seen to that. Daddy lost his shot at happy, and it’s all your fault, Opie.


From an episode of Family Guy:
(It) tastes like happy!


The way these things are used is kind of in a playful, possibly facetious or ironic sense, but it is an interesting development, and I've noticed myself and others around me occasionally using similar forms in regular speech (so it's not just on TV shows and music). Anyone else do this or have you noticed this?
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Postby MikeL » 2005-08-28, 21:04

Yes I've noticed this trend.
Just shows how flexible the language is.
Try translating "lost his shot at happy" into French or Spanish or Italian...
It's presumably an ellipsis with "being" or "the chance of" understood.

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Postby Kirk » 2005-08-29, 1:05

MikeL wrote:It's presumably an ellipsis with "being" or "the chance of" understood.


Yeah that's how I've kind of thought of it, too. Yet actually saying the "being" or "the chance of" seems to have a slightly different meaning--and it's at least certainly not as playful and/or facetious.
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks

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Postby Stan » 2005-08-29, 1:12

No offense but I think "tastes like happy" is very cheesy. 8)
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Postby Kirk » 2005-08-29, 1:41

Stancel wrote:No offense but I think "tastes like happy" is very cheesy. 8)


That's why it works ;) It's ironic value.
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks

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Postby Strigo » 2005-08-29, 2:36

Sorry but, don't get the meaning of that expression. :(
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Postby Kirk » 2005-08-29, 2:47

Strigo wrote:Sorry but, don't get the meaning of that expression. :(


Which one?
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I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

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Postby Strigo » 2005-08-29, 2:56

tastes like happy

Don't go act all sweetness
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Postby Kirk » 2005-08-29, 3:03

Strigo wrote:tastes like happy


Well, it would be something like "tastes like happiness" (if happiness had a taste, it would be this).

Strigo wrote:Don't go act all sweetness


"Don't act sweet" or "don't go acting sweet."
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

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Postby Stan » 2005-08-29, 14:56

There's another example, "My bad" using "bad" an adjective as a noun.

My bad = sorry, My mistake
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Postby MikeL » 2005-08-29, 21:40

Stancel wrote:There's another example, "My bad" using "bad" an adjective as a noun.

My bad = sorry, My mistake


Another fascinating neologism. Anyone got any idea where it originated? Can't be more than a few years old.

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Postby Kirk » 2005-08-30, 20:34

Stancel wrote:There's another example, "My bad" using "bad" an adjective as a noun.

My bad = sorry, My mistake


Yeah that's a good example, and it's probably the most common and widespread (at least here in North America) out of the phrases mentioned on this thread.

MikeL, I'm not sure where the phrase originated but I assume it was somewhere in North America--it's relatively common especially amongst younger speakers. I've heard it since before I was in junior high, so it's been around at least 10 years, and I would assume had been around in smaller circles before that.
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

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Postby kibo » 2005-08-30, 22:00

Funny how "my bad" seems perfectly natural, while with "act sweetness" and "taste like happy" I would wonder if I heard/read those, they seem so weird. But that's probably because I heard "my bad" at least a million of times.

Perhaps someone wanted a more English version of the Latin expression 'mea culpa' and that's how 'my bad' started being used.
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Postby Car » 2005-08-31, 8:26

I have exactly the same feeling as Bugi, I've seen or heard "my bad" so often, but never the other ones.
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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-03, 2:48

Car wrote:I have exactly the same feeling as Bugi, I've seen or heard "my bad" so often, but never the other ones.


Yeah the other ones aren't as common. However, earlier today I did hear a friend say "he wasn't so good at funny--he was better at organizing" which follows along the same pattern of what we've been talking about. As I said before, to me such a usage sounds playful and isn't usually the normal usage but is reserved for special effect--however, it does seem to be getting more common.
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks

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Postby jonathan » 2005-09-11, 23:09

As if English wasn't confusing enough, I find it amusing when people (probably just Americans?) use "bad" to mean exactly the opposite:

"That song is bad!"
"Your new shirt is so bad, man!"

In a certain context, the speaker could mean that the subjects being spoken on are in fact really good.

Sorry this is somewhat off-topic, I just was thinking about it with the whole "bad" thing...

PS: Arrested Development is such an awesome show... the only thing probably worth watching on TV anymore. Is it on this season? I haven't had time to follow.
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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-11, 23:50

jonathan wrote:As if English wasn't confusing enough, I find it amusing when people (probably just Americans?) use "bad" to mean exactly the opposite:

"That song is bad!"
"Your new shirt is so bad, man!"

In a certain context, the speaker could mean that the subjects being spoken on are in fact really good.

Sorry this is somewhat off-topic, I just was thinking about it with the whole "bad" thing...


Yeah and as nontraditional as those usages are, they're still adjectives ;) So they're not as "out there" as what we were discussing earlier but you're right they're interesting. That kind of thing actually is relatively common amongst languages, that a word will start to get used in an ironic sense with the opposite meaning (sometimes it starts out as a sarcastic usage) and then over time sometimes the word actually acquires the new meaning. However, that doesn't always happen--sometimes there can be the parallel peripheral ironic usage which never becomes the dominant usage.

jonathan wrote:PS: Arrested Development is such an awesome show... the only thing probably worth watching on TV anymore. Is it on this season? I haven't had time to follow.


It's simply a brilliant show, isn't it? I don't watch almost anything else on TV. Its third season starts September 19th (a Monday--a week from tomorrow) at 8/7 central on Fox and I'm eagerly awaiting it. I also can't wait for the 2nd-season DVDs to come out. I need to see those again!
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks

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Postby Ariki » 2005-09-12, 6:32

Yeah and as nontraditional as those usages are, they're still adjectives So they're not as "out there" as what we were discussing earlier but you're right they're interesting. That kind of thing actually is relatively common amongst languages, that a word will start to get used in an ironic sense with the opposite meaning (sometimes it starts out as a sarcastic usage) and then over time sometimes the word actually acquires the new meaning. However, that doesn't always happen--sometimes there can be the parallel peripheral ironic usage which never becomes the dominant usage.


I agree completely with your thoughts. You are so hotdog at linguistics ;)
:lol:

(seriously, what you said makes sense!)
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Postby Kennedy » 2005-09-12, 8:38

svenska84 wrote:However, that doesn't always happen--sometimes there can be the parallel peripheral ironic usage which never becomes the dominant usage.

That's more or less what happens in Brazil with a few Portuguese words. There's this slang term, "fodido" (or "fudido"), which means - literally - "fucked". In my region (northeast) I had always used it, and heard it being used, with a negative concept. If you said "that car is fodido", that would mean that the car was really a piece of junk. In Sao Paulo, however (central Brazil), they use the word when they mean something is really good. It's common to hear that a CD, or a band, is/are really "fodido(s)". The first time I heard it I thought it sounded funny, but now I guess it's just common (to me). The Internet makes everything work faster, including how the unusual can become ordinary to you so quickly.

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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-12, 9:15

riki wrote:
Yeah and as nontraditional as those usages are, they're still adjectives So they're not as "out there" as what we were discussing earlier but you're right they're interesting. That kind of thing actually is relatively common amongst languages, that a word will start to get used in an ironic sense with the opposite meaning (sometimes it starts out as a sarcastic usage) and then over time sometimes the word actually acquires the new meaning. However, that doesn't always happen--sometimes there can be the parallel peripheral ironic usage which never becomes the dominant usage.


I agree completely with your thoughts. You are so hotdog at linguistics ;)
:lol:

(seriously, what you said makes sense!)


Haha, thanks :) I was hoping what I wrote wasn't too jumbled.

Kennedy wrote:That's more or less what happens in Brazil with a few Portuguese words. There's this slang term, "fodido" (or "fudido"), which means - literally - "fucked". In my region (northeast) I had always used it, and heard it being used, with a negative concept. If you said "that car is fodido", that would mean that the car was really a piece of junk. In Sao Paulo, however (central Brazil), they use the word when they mean something is really good. It's common to hear that a CD, or a band, is/are really "fodido(s)". The first time I heard it I thought it sounded funny, but now I guess it's just common (to me). The Internet makes everything work faster, including how the unusual can become ordinary to you so quickly.


Ooh, that's interesting. That does sound roughly equivalent to the "that's bad!" thing Jonathan brought up.
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks


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